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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  October 20, 2010 12:00am-12:30am PDT

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tavis: first of tonight is a conversation with one of the leading advocates in the fight against hunger, david beckmann. he is a recipient of the world food prize. his new book is a bold challenge to end hunger called eddie levert." also tonight eddie levert is here teacher in the latest hits from his late son. david beckmann and eddie levert, coming up right now. >> all i know is his name is james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i am james. >> yes. >> to everyone making a difference, you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance proudly supports tavis smiley. tavis and nationwide insurance,
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working to improve financial literacy and the economic empowerment that comes with it. your side ♪ >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. kcet public television] tavis: david beckmann is the president for bread for the world. his new book is called "exodus from honker." -- hunger. good to have you on the program. let me start with asking what the politics of honker art.
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>> the binding constraint -- politics of hunger. there is lack of political will. there are many countries that made progress against hunger and disease, so we know it is possible to make progress against poverty. it is also possible in the u.s. what is really needed is organized give a damn. we have to have political commitment to reduce hunger. we know a lot of things to reduce it around the world. what we need to do is change u.s. government policy, because our government provides a framework for what we do in this country and has reached all over the world. >> what is wrong with u.s. policy? >> in our country it has been
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since johnson or nixon we have had a president that would have made reducing party -- reducing poverty one of his top priorities. it is not surprising we have not reduced it. with the recession, a lot more people have been pushed into poverty. 1 in 4 kids lives in a household that runs out of food. we are doing a better job than we were doing 10 years ago in supporting people around the world who are trying to work their way out of poverty. there are some clear things we can do that would not take much effort and that would help millions of people escape from the worst possible hunger. it is up to us as citizens to weign in on the election on
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november 2 and advocates to push our officials to make them know that reducing poverty is important. tavis: i want to come back to those things in a second to reduce hunger, bu i am struck by you going back to johnson and nixon. there are a bunch of presidents between johnson and nixon. let me ask you what you make of the once since then, specifically president obama. >> the obama administration has a real opportunity because he has made significant commitments to help hungry people. he just issued a directive to all the agencies in the government that will help to make foreign aid more affective in promoting growth and reducing hunger around the world. he has a world hunger
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initiative to invest more in poor farmers. he supports strong child nutrition programs. the fact that he is president gives us a chance, but we need to get our members of congress to support the president's agenda for hungry people. the bacteria is present is -- i think god is calling us right now to change our politics because we have suffered a setback with the economy. once more hungry people all over the world, but we have a very practical opportunities now to pass a few laws that would help people in the midst of this crisis. then we could see continued progress around the world and some progress against poverty in
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our own country. tavis: i figured these answers will run together. are the politics of hunger partisan? tell me what this legislation is that we ought to be advancing to address this issue. >> it makes a difference which party controls the house. but there is scope within both parties to do some good things for hungry people. there are conservative approaches and both parties could do a better job in reducing poverty. bred for the world, we work with the members of congress on both sides for getting the job done. as soon as congress comes back they will be dealing with the child nutrition programs. they will be deciding are we
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going to provide more nutritious lunches? will we strengthen programs like school breakfast? some people are proposing let's strengthen those programs and do it by cutting food stamps, which makes no sense. another thing is president obama and secretary clinton have done a great job of responding to a dramatic increase in hunger in the last couple of years by mobilizing the whole world to invest more in poor farmers in poor countries. the money that they need to lead that initiative is hanging in congress. congress is not on track to give them a small amount of money they requested to reduce hunger. those of us who care about hunger can weigh in with our
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members of congress. you can find out about those issues on my web site and let your representatives know you care about hugger and want strong child nutrition programs. tavis: -- >> from a religious perspective, i am struck that the world has made extraordinary progress against poverty over the last couple of decades. there are 30 million more kids in african schools than 30 years ago. the child mortality rate is half what it was 30 years ago. i see this as got moving in our history. this is a great exodus in our time.
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by everything sacred we ought to get with the program. to do that we need to change u.s. politics on these issues. tavis: you have spoken directly to the american people. what is it specifically everyday people can do beyond the conversations about legislation? what can people do to affect this issue? >> right now we are at a turning point with the election. think about which of those candidates will be better for hungry people. it is one way that god is looking at our election. if your own local selection looks like it is said, find a candidate someplace else who will be good for poor people and get on his web site and send $50. influence the election on
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november 2, and go to and connect to specific issues where you know others are pushing and help us get a good child nutrition programs, more development assistance. these are very doable things despite the deficit and date this functionality of u.s. politics. -- despite disfunctionality. i expect to see before i die i think we could get the number of hungry people down to 100 million. that is very possible. in our country we should not have to have 1 in 4 kids in a household running out of food. we can and child on earth. tavis: we are called to change the politics of hunter written by the winner of the 2010 world
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food prize, david beckmann. thanks for coming on the program. up next, a legendary the o'jays's singer eddie levert with a tribute to his late son. stay with us. tavis: always pleased to welcome e -- eddie levert to this program. his latest project pays tribute to his late son, gerald. the disk is called "the best of gerald levert." there is one of my favorite songs. ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ tavis: i recall talking to coretta scott king. i was asking her how she was able to navigate every day having lost her husband, but everywhere she went she was always reminded of her husband, street signs named after him, schools named after him, people saying they admired him. how did you ever get beyond that? does it make reading easier? people always put martin in your
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face? gerald is such a great soul singer. everybody knows you as his daddy. people must say this to you all the time. >> it is something that you never get over. i would not say by them bringing it up and saying my condolences about your son, even now they will say i am really sorry what happened to your son. i think my relationship with god has been the leveler, the thing that keeps it level to the point where it does not affect me. i get emotional but it does not have that effect on me that i
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want to run somewhere and say i don't want to hear anymore. i. god has -- i think that god has a bigger plan than we know about. wherever they go it has to be better than where we are at. i think wherever they are at at -- is a wonderful place. tavis: you talked about how you have come to realize that god is the great level. that is what you learned about god. what did you learn about edie when you lose two sons? >> i learned that i truly do believe, and that god is my savior and my hope.
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i truly do believe that whatever happens was his choosing. not that he wishes death on anyone, but he let it happen for whatever reason. i think it made me a much stronger person as an individual because it made me see the things i needed to do with my grandchildren and the things i need to spend more time at. i needed to be more of a family man and a guy that can get in touch with my grandkids, help them. tavis: i am laughing on the inside to your point about how everything happens for a reason, and god does everything in his own way. it is fascinating for you to say that your son's death has taught
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you have to be a better father. >> absolutely, -- they used to speak about what our next move should be as far as business is concerned, those are the things i miss the most because even now his phone number and all of that is still in my phone. i wish that i could bottle it and he would pick up, but i note it will not happen. i know it is there, so this keeps me in touch with him so i know he is a part of my everyday being. i have been very fortunate to have these kids. i wish he would sort of leave me alone. [laughter] we still talk but in a different
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way. he is ever prevalent. it is like this particular album. we did so many things together writing songs, and on there i get things in the mail from some things i even forgot that we have done, but he is constantly still with me. because i have to deal with his son who is exactly like him. [laughter] tavis: i'm praying for you. >> exactly like him. the same thing with sean. i deal with their children and they are so much like them to a point where they laugh or talk i find myself almost talking to them like it is gerald.
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it is amazing. tavis: there are many things about you i have admired. everyone wants to get on stage and make women go crazy. i always wanted to be eddie levert. i have known him for years but i have learned you have something i want more than being on stage. i want to get to the point where i start getting checks i forgot i did. that is a problem i would love to have. i want that problem. >> i look on the list and think when did i write that? when i go over to gerald's house and he would say what do you think about this? i think this line would probably work. i will put you down for 10%. but i did that do anything. i did what a father does.
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that is what he usually would do. tavis: i know what i think when i hear his music. you hear his stuff now and it comes on the radio. however you hear his music, when you hear him now what do you hear? is it as good as he remembered it? >> it is better than i remember at, gerald did not really know who he really was. because he did not know he was one of the greatest soul singers in the history of r&b music. i think the world has just started realizing it now that he is gone. when you hear him now you really realize how good he was. how his message was something of love and honesty, and a a soul
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singer. tavis: dr. cornell west refers to gerald as the greatest soul singer of his generation. as a father of eight progeny it makes you feel like what? >> it makes me feel liked don't forget where he came from. [laughter] tavis: he did not just drop out of this guy. >> he did not just start doing that. there were a lot of days where he would be doing that around the house and i would say you need to pick up and get more steam. when we started singing and writing songs he would do certain things and we would take
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it. i still remember one incident where we had taped a song we were working on and played it back. somebody did a great run and i thought it was made. that was a great run i just did. he said that was not you. that was me. i played it back and went, what ever. [laughter] tavis: what is amazing is when gerald first came out he could not get away from all the people saying he sounds just liked you. was he ever troubled by that? how did he get beyond being compared to sounding like his daddy? >> he found himself in there somewhere. by the time he got to the song
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-- after we did "baby hold on to me." it is when he started creating his own sound. he had a problem with it for a while but we both had to learn to live with it because i got to the place where everywhere i went i was gerald's dad. then they got to the place where people compare me -- they will say who is better? most of the people of the day, i think gerald is better. i would really get livid about that. hold it, after all i did? still today they have that big argument. tavis: --
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>> i let him be the best. tavis: that is what a father should said. [laughter] my dad tells me i taught you everything you know but i did not teach you everything i know. >> this is what he used to say, if i could just get a string of this you will be out of business. i told him, it will not happen. tavis: it did not happen but what he put out is awfully good. he made a good run out of it. it is a blessing when you have done enough. one hit wonders. >> that will make -- not make an album. tavis: there are 16 wonderful tracks on this album.
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the best of gerald levert. thanks for doing this. we are leaving you tonight with a moment we will never forget around here. eddie and sure performed here back in 2004. -- eddie and gerald performed. good night and keep the faith. ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at tavis: join me next time for conversation with james burrows on his latest series. we will see you then. >> all i know is his name is james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i am james.
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>> yes. >> to everyone making a difference, you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance proudly supports tavis smiley. tavis and nationwide insurance, working to improve financial literacy and the economic empowerment that comes with it. >> ♪ nationwide is on your side ♪ >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. kcet public television] captioned by the national captioning institute
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